Caroll Spinney, puppeteer behind Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch on Sesame Street, retires after nearly 50 years

The Associated Press

October 18, 2018 14:54:20 IST

Woodstock, Connecticut: The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on Sesame Street is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show.

FILE- In this April 10, 2008 file photo, Big Bird reads to Connor Scott and Tiffany Jiao during a taping of Sesame Street in New York. The puppeteer who has played Big Bird on "Sesame Street" is retiring after nearly 50 years on the show. Caroll Spinney tells the New York Times that Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, will be his last day on the program, which he joined from the start in 1969. In addition to Big Bird, the 84-year-old was also Oscar the Grouch. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

In this file photo, Big Bird reads to Connor Scott and Tiffany Jiao during a taping of Sesame Street in New York. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

Caroll Spinney announced in a statement on Wednesday that he’s handing over Big Bird and his other character, Oscar the Grouch, to younger performers. The 84-year-old joined “Sesame Street” at its inception in 1969.

Spinney says he didn’t feel like his work was important until Big Bird helped him find his purpose.

FILE- In this April 10, 2008, file photo puppeteer Caroll Spinney is interviewed during a break from taping an episode of "Sesame Street" in New York. After nearly 50 years on the show Spinney is retiring. Spinney tells the New York Times that Thursday, Oct. 18, 2018, will be his last day on the program, which he joined from the start in 1969. In addition to Big Bird, the 84-year-old was also Oscar the Grouch. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

In this file photo, puppeteer Caroll Spinney is interviewed during a break from taping an episode of Sesame Street in New York. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File

Spinney says the physical requirements of performing the characters had become difficult and he developed problems with his balance. He stopped doing the puppeteering for Big Bird in 2015 and now only provides the voices for him and Oscar.

His apprentice, Matt Vogel, will succeed him in the Big Bird role. Vogel also plays Kermit the Frog.

Updated Date: Oct 18, 2018 14:54 PM